Mayor Lightfoot speaks on United Center appointments opening Thursday

Seniors can begin making appointments for a vaccine at the United Center beginning Thursday.

Video Transcript

LORI LIGHTFOOT: All right, good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for being here. I want to begin by recognizing the other leaders here with us today and thank them for making this announcement possible. To my immediate right, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, to my immediate left, Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the Department of Business affairs and Consumer Protection, and Chicago Department of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Geraldine Luna. Thank you ladies for being here with us.

I'm here to make several announcements related to our vaccine efforts and other re-opening news. First, something important for our seniors-- since the very beginning of our long journey with COVID-19, we've been working around the clock to ensure that all of our residents, especially those who are most vulnerable, remain connected to care and have equitable access to resources that they need to feel safe and healthy. And even when vaccines first arrived in our city almost three months ago, we didn't lose sight of this important mission. In fact, we doubled our efforts by accelerating our efforts to push vaccines to residents that need them most, and that work continues. Among those residents are, undoubtedly, Chicagoans age 65 and older.

As I said on Friday, here in Chicago, we have a quarter of a million seniors who have yet to get their first dose. And when you take into account all of Cook County, that number jumps to nearly half a million. In order for us to truly rise above this terrible pandemic, we must get our seniors vaccinated as fast and as humanely as possible-- no shortcuts there. It's essential to us to be able to move forward. Because we've seen that in Chicago, regardless of the underlying conditions, vaccinating older residents has the biggest impact on preventing COVID-19-related deaths, as more than 80% of the total number of COVID-related deaths in Chicago have been in residents age 60 and older. And to date, one in three Chicagoans age 65 and older have received at least their first dose.

This is great progress, but it's not enough. And we won't stop until we reach a much loftier goal, which is, of getting every single one of our seniors fully vaccinated. That's why we've come together today to announce that starting this Thursday at 8:30 AM-- again, this Thursday at 8:30 AM-- Illinoisans age 65 and older will be able to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated at the United Center vaccine site, which will begin to administer vaccines on March 10. So this Thursday at 8:30 AM, a very important date to mark on your calendar.

And in an effort to bridge the digital divide and further ensure equitable access to the vaccine, residents will now have two options for making appointments, and you can see them on the screens behind me. One is online, and the other is through a multilingual call center. To register online, please visit zocdoc-- that's Z-O-C-D-O-C-- . com/vaccine. That's zocdoc.com/vaccine. And to register by phone, please call 312-746-4835. That's 312-746-3835.

Again, that registration is for seniors via phone or online, and it will begin this Thursday at 8:30 AM. And we encourage those who have access to the site to go there first and save the phone number for those who may not have access to a computer or some other kind of digital advice.

Folks, this is an all call to seniors, their family members, or anyone else in the seniors network and support system to get them signed up for these appointments before they are taken. So Thursday 8:30 AM, two methods-- zocdoc.com/vaccine or call 312-746-4835.

Let me once again stress that our only way to fully recover from this pandemic is getting seniors vaccinated as soon as possible. So our residents age 65 and older, please don't delay in receiving this lifesaving vaccine. And to the loved ones of our residents age 65 and older, please make every effort to help them get signed up for a vaccine appointment either online or over the phone and to help them get to the United Center when it's time for their appointment. Or we will provide transportation options for them. We must do everything in our power to support our seniors, so let's get them their appointments and let's get them vaccinated.

In addition to opening appointments for seniors this Thursday, the city will also host special vaccine events next-- let me say that again. The city will also host a special vaccine events for seniors across 10 of our communities beginning March 5 and March 14, which we will provide further details on in the coming days. And starting March 4, the city will also partner with the Chicago Fire Department to vaccinate homebound seniors enrolled through our Smart911 and their caretakers. So there are lots of efforts happening in the month of March to make sure that our seniors have access to the vaccine, and March is our senior month. It's SOS-- support our seniors.